- Sony PlayStation Vita / Rated 10+ / $9.99 / released August 2013
- OFFICIAL SITE: PlayStation Blog
- PURCHASE LINK: Sony Entertainment Network store
- FINAL: You WANT this game. 4 out of 5 stars
“Augmented Reality” games – where your device’s camera makes it appear that virtual onscreen elements have appeared in the real world – enjoyed the tiniest of gold rushes as part of the launch of both the Nintendo 3DS and the PlayStation Vita. Both companies pitched AR as a selling point, fielded a spare few AR games, and then went back to their lairs to focus on bigger projects. “Open Me!”, now available on PlayStation Vita, is the genre’s healthiest stab yet at proving “augmented reality” can translate to “good time.”
“Open Me!” is a series of locked box puzzles, each rendered in three dimensions right on your kitchen table. Using an AR marker card to position the box in front of you, you can then use the Vita to examine the box from any angle. Your goal, in every case, is to find the button or switch or combination of both that will allow the box to open.
To get you acclimated, one of the earliest puzzles simply puts a button on the back of the box – so yeah, get used to walking in circles around a virtual box. Then you’ll encounter boxes that protect themselves, with spinning blades that you can’t touch. “Open Me!” counts your attempts according to how many fingers you have lost to saw blades.
The box designs become more and more creative after you’ve learned the basics. The best examples stretch your thinking, like a cuckoo clock box that requires you to open it according to the real world’s time. The worst are the finger equivalent of tongue twisters, where the game’s less-than-precise controls come at odds with the AR tech.
As fun as it sounds, you are at the mercy of the limitations of augmented reality. You will regularly lose your visual on the box if you tilt the Vita too far away from the AR card, for example. The game’s biggest downfall, however, is that the core concept means there’s no way to play “Open Me!” without being on your feet and holding the Vita in 360 degrees of weird angles. You have to commit to it.
“Open Me!” has two other gameplay modes. Multiplayer boxes require two players (each with a Vita) who must cooperate to open a shared box. There is also a suite of tools to make your own puzzle box, which can be shared online with others.
With plenty of boxes to open, there’s a guarantee that some boxes will be more fun than others, but the overall game is so clever that it definitely makes “Open Me!’ something for Vita owners should check out.
“Open Me!” has twelve packs of boxes, available in multiple separately-priced bundles. The least expensive way to collect them all is $9.99. A free demo is available.
Image courtesy Sony Computer Entertainment America.